Debian (//) is an operating system composed of free software mostly carrying the GNU General Public License. The operating system is developed by an internet collaboration of volunteers aligned with The Debian Project.
Debian 7.0 (Wheezy) with GNOME 3
|Company / developer||Debian Project|
|Source model||Free software|
|Initial release||16 August 1993|
|Latest stable release||7.2 (Wheezy) (October 12, 2013[±])|
|Latest unstable release||Debian Testing (Jessie) (6 May 2013[±])|
|Available language(s)||Multilingual (more than 73)|
|Update method||APT (several front-ends available)|
|Supported platforms||i386, AMD64, PowerPC, SPARC, ARM, MIPS, S390, IA-64|
|Kernel type||Monolithic: Linux, kFreeBSD (unstable: Micro: Hurd)|
|Default user interface||GNOME|
|License||Free software, mainly the GNU GPL, and other licenses|
Debian (//) is an operating system composed of free software mostly carrying the GNU General Public License. The operating system is developed by an internet collaboration of volunteers aligned with The Debian Project.
Debian systems can use either the Linux kernel (known as the Debian GNU/Linux distribution), the FreeBSD kernel (known as the Debian GNU/kFreeBSD distribution) or, more recently, the GNU Hurd kernel (more precisely, the GNU Mach microkernel and its servers; known as the Debian GNU/Hurd distribution).
Debian GNU/Linux is one of the most popular Linux distributions for personal and Internet server machines. Debian is seen as a solid Linux, and as a consequence has been used as a base for other Linux distributions; Distrowatch lists 144 active Debian derivatives. Debian has been forked many times, but is not affiliated with its derivatives.
The Debian project released a new kernel as of Wheezy's release date: the Debian GNU/kFreeBSD kernel. Debian now supports two kernels, Linux and kFreeBSD, and offers other kernels as development works (GNU Hurd and NetBSD). This project's new kernel has recently come out of preview but still lacks the amount of software available as on Debian's Linux. The kernel is offered for Intel/AMD 32-bit and 64-bit architecture machines. Wheezy is officially supported on ten machine architectures and also brought support for two new architectures: s390x and armhf.
Debian is still primarily known as a Linux distribution with access to online repositories hosting over 37,500 software packages. Debian officially hosts free software on its repositories but also allows non-free software to be installed. Debian includes popular programs such as LibreOffice, Iceweasel (a rebranding of Firefox), Evolution mail, CD/DVD writing programs, music and video players, image viewers and editors, and PDF viewers. The cost of developing all the packages included in Debian 5.0 lenny (323 million lines of code) using the COCOMO model, has been estimated to be about US$ 8 billion. Ohloh estimates that the codebase (68 million lines of code) using the same model, would cost about US$ 1.2 billion to develop.
Debian offers 10 DVD and 69 CD images for download and installation, but only the first optical iso image of any of its downloadable sets is sufficient. Debian requires the first installable image, but uses online repositories for additional software. Debian's basic installation requires only the first CD or DVD of its release in order to have a working desktop experience. The Wheezy release offers to install a variety of default Desktops from its DVD boot menu (GNOME, KDE, Xfce, and LXDE) and allows visually-impaired people to use its installer. The new feature in Debian's latest installer of Wheezy for the visually-impaired supports a mode which is textual but performs audio output for each stage of installation. Debian offers different network installation methods for expert users. A minimal install of Debian is available via the 'netinstall' CD, whereby Debian is installed with just a base and later additional software can be downloaded from the internet.
Debian's new form of installation-from-USB has been supported since its sixth edition. Debian supports this capability inside its first iso-file of any of its install media sets (whether CD or DVD) and does not require the help of 'extraction tools' such as unetbootin. This new feature is called Hybrid iso in which an .iso file is dumped to USB. Debian is one of the few Linux distributions offering this feature with its install iso media, and other distributions are starting to adopt alike.
Other notable new features in Debian's latest release include: Multiarch, which allows 32-bit Linux software to run on 64-bit operating system installs; improved multimedia support, reducing reliance on third-party repositories; compiled packages with hardened security flags; AppArmor, which can protect a system against unknown vulnerabilities; and systemd, which shipped as a technology preview.
Debian offers stable and testing CD images specifically built for GNOME (the default), KDE Plasma Workspaces, Xfce and LXDE. Less common window managers such as Enlightenment, Openbox, Fluxbox, GNUstep, IceWM, Window Maker and others can also be installed. It was previously suggested that the default desktop environment of version 7.0 "Wheezy" may be switched to Xfce, because GNOME 3 might not fit on the first CD of the set. The Debian Installer team announced that the first CD includes GNOME thanks to their efforts to minimize the amount of disc space GNOME takes up. In November 2013 it was announced that the desktop environment of version 8.0 "Jessie" would change to Xfce. Demand for Xfce will be evaluated and the default environment may switch back to GNOME again just before Jessie is frozen.
Debian Pure Blend is a subset of Debian that is configured to support a particular target group out-of-the-box.
Debian Blend is a Debian-based distribution having an explicit goal of improving Debian as a whole. Consequently, all extras offered by Blends will either become part of Debian, or are temporary workarounds to solve a need of the target group which cannot yet be solved within Debian.
A Debian-Live system is officially supported by the Debian project. A Debian-Live system can be booted from removable media (CDs, DVDs, USB thumb drive), and possibly from netboot images. Debian-Live allows a user to try a Debian desktop without actually installing it but with the penalty of no persistent storage and it would be running with degraded speed. Debian-Live comes tailored and made available as a variety of community prebuilds, such as GNOME, KDE Plasma Workspaces, Xfce, LXDE, and rescue boot environments. An option for permanently installing Debian on a hard disk is also made available from these boot environments.
Personalized Debian-Live images can be built with the live-build tool, in which images are generated for CD/DVD/USB drives and for netboot purposes. Live-magic is another tool used for personalizing Debian-Live images, along with the assistance of a graphical interface. The official standard Debian-Live images are available only for the i386 and amd64 architectures.
Recent releases of Debian support an increasing number of ARM-based NAS devices. The cheap NSLU2 was supported by Debian 4.0 and 5.0 and can be upgraded to Debian 6.0 although there are problems with a 6.0 clean install. Debian 5.0 added support for the Buffalo Kurobox Pro, and Debian 6.0 for the SheevaPlug.
Other NAS devices supported by Debian, but perhaps not so widely used by home users, include GLAN Tank and Thecus N2100 as of Debian 4.0, QNAP Turbo Station (TS-109, TS-209, TS-409) and HP mv2120 as of Debian 5.0, and QNAP Turbo NAS TS-11x, TS-21x and TS-41x, OpenRD, Lanner EM7210 and Intel SS4000-e as of Debian 6.0.
The Emdebian Grip project — a small Debian-compatible installation — provides a more fine-grained control over package selection, size, dependencies and content, in order to enable creation of small and efficient Debian packages for use on resource-limited embedded systems. Reduced installation size is one of the main benefits coming from the Emdebian Grip.
Emdebian Grip maintains as much compatibility as possible with Debian. In essence, Emdebian Grip re-packs the
.deb archives from Debian while removing unneeded files, such as manpages, info documents, documentation and unwanted translation files. In other words, Emdebian Grip is a Debian distribution builder — the
emgrip command (from the
emdebian-grip package) processes a
.deb package from any of the supported Debian architectures, and generates an equivalent Emdebian Grip package. That way the binaries, maintainer scripts and dependencies of the original Debian packages are untouched, but the overall size and the installation footprint of the packages are reduced.
As the Emdebian Grip packages are not recompiled, they are completely binary compatible with Debian, so it is even possible to mix Emdebian and Debian packages — or to even migrate an existing Debian system to Emdebian Grip.
|Internet media type||
|Type of format||Package management system|
|Container for||Software package|
|Extended from||ar archive|
Debian's official standard for administering packages on its system is the apt toolset. Though for many years apt-get has been the defacto tool for administering packages on Debian, suggestions point to aptitude as better for interactive use as aptitude supports better search on package metadata.
dpkg is the storage information center of installed packages and provides no configuration for accessing online repositories. The dpkg database is located at /var/lib/dpkg/available and contains the list of "installed" software on the current system.
The dpkg command tool is used for the dpkg database without capability of accessing online repositories. The command can work with local .deb package files as well as information from the dpkg database.
An APT tool allows administration of an installed Debian system for retrieving and resolving package dependencies from online repositories. APT tools share dependency information(/etc/apt configuration files) and downloaded cache .deb files(/var/cache/apt/archives). APT tools depend on verifying what is installed in the dpkg database in order to determine missing packages for requested installs.
The Debian Project offers three distributions, each with different characteristics. The distributions include packages which comply with the Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG), which are included inside the main repositories. Debian also officially supports the optional backports repository for the stable distribution.
Depreciating repositories in Debian:
Other repository in Debian:
The Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) defines its distinctive meaning of the word "free" as in "free and open source software" (FOSS), although it is not endorsed by the Free Software Foundation or GNU foundation; reason being Debian's servers includes and supports a proprietary repository and documentation that recommends non-free software. In accordance with its guidelines, a relatively small number of packages are excluded from the distributions' main repositories and included inside the non-free and contrib repositories. These two repositories are not officially part of Debian GNU/Linux. The Debian project offers its distribution without non-free repositories but can be adopted manually after initial setup.
Debian has no hardware requirements beyond those of the Linux kernel and the GNU tool-sets (gcc, coreutils, bash, etc.). Therefore, any architecture or platform to which these packages have been ported, and for which a Debian port exists, can run Debian.
Debian's recommended system requirements differ depending on the level of installation, which corresponds to increased numbers of installed components:
|Install desktop||RAM minimum||RAM recommended||Hard drive space used|
|No||64 MB||256 MB||1 GB|
|Yes||128 MB||512 MB||5 GB|
The real minimum memory requirements are much less than the numbers listed in this table. Depending on the architecture, it is possible to install Debian with as little as 20 MB RAM for s390 or 48 MB RAM for i386 and AMD64. Similarly, disk space requirements, which depend on the packages to be installed, can also be reduced. Emdebian (embedded Debian) improves installation to devices with minimal disk space, partially by removing documentation and installing only needed translations. In its Grip and Baked form it is binary compatible.
It is possible to run graphical user interfaces on older or low-end systems, but the installation of window managers instead of desktop environments is recommended, as desktop environments are more resource-intensive.
Most software packages in the official Debian repositories are compiled for an abundance of available and older instruction sets.
As of the current stable release, the official ports are:
i386: x86 architecture designed for Intel/AMD 32-bit PCs. Also compatible with but not recommended on Intel/AMD 64-bit PCs
amd64: x86-64 architecture designed for AMD/Intel 64-bit PCs
armel: little-endian ARM architecture (Instruction set ARMv4) on RiscPC and various embedded systems (EABI)
ia64: Intel Itanium (IA-64) architecture
kfreebsd-i386: Kernel of FreeBSD on x86 architecture
kfreebsd-amd64: Kernel of FreeBSD on x86-64 architecture
mipsel: MIPS architecture (big-endian and little-endian)
powerpc: PowerPC architecture
s390: IBM ESA/390 architecture and z/Architecture
sparc: Sun SPARC architecture on sun4u/v systems
armhf: ARM (Instruction set ARMv7) hard-float architecture requiring hardware with a floating-point unit (FPU)
s390x: IBM ESA/390 architecture and z/Architecture with 64-bit userland
In the current official unstable distribution there are following ports:
Unofficial ports are also available as part of the unstable distribution at http://www.debian-ports.org:
alpha: DEC Alpha architecture
hppa: HP PA-RISC architecture
m68k: Motorola 68k architecture on Amiga, Atari, Macintosh and various embedded VME systems
powerpcspe: PowerPCSPE architecture (binary-incompatible variant of the PowerPC)
ppc64: PowerPC64 architecture supporting 64-bit PowerPC CPUs with VMX
sh4: Hitachi SuperH architecture
sparc64: Sun SPARC architecture with 64-bit userland
x32: 32-bit userland for modern amd64 processors, incompatible with i386
m68k port was the second official one in Debian, and has been part of five stable Debian releases. Due to its failure to meet the release criteria, it was dropped before the release of etch but is in current status of being revived. The
arm (OABI, <armv4t),
hppa ports were dropped before the release of squeeze.
Debian is known for its serious manifesto social contract and policies. Debian's policies and team efforts focus on collaborative software development and testing processes and dedicates lengthy development time between unstable and stable release cycles. As a result of its strictly guarded policies, a new distribution release for Debian tends to occur every one to two years. The strategy policies used by the Debian project for minimizing software bugs, albeit with longer release cycles, has allowed it to remain one of the most stable and secure Linux distributions.
The Debian Project is a volunteer organization with three foundational documents:
Debian is developed by over three thousand volunteers. Each of them sustains some niche in the project, be it package maintenance, software documentation, maintaining the project infrastructure, quality assurance, or release coordination. Package maintainers have jurisdiction over their own packages, although packages are increasingly co-maintained. Other tasks are usually handled by the domain of smaller, more collaborative groups of developers.
Debian is supported by donations through several nonprofit organizations around the world. Most important of these is Software in the Public Interest, the owner of the Debian trademark and umbrella organization for various other community free software projects.
The project maintains official mailing lists and conferences for communication and coordination between developers. For issues with single packages or domains, a public bug tracking system is used by developers and end-users. Informally, Internet Relay Chat channels (primarily on the OFTC and freenode networks) are used for communication among developers and users also.
Together, the Developers may make binding general decisions by way of a General Resolution or election. All voting is conducted by Cloneproof Schwartz Sequential Dropping, a Condorcet method of voting. A Project Leader is elected once per year by a vote of the Developers; in April 2010, Stefano Zacchiroli was voted into this position, succeeding Steve McIntyre. The Debian Project Leader has several special powers, but they are far from absolute and rarely used. Under a General Resolution, the Developers may, among other things, recall the leader, reverse a decision by him or his delegates, and amend the constitution and other foundational documents.
The Leader sometimes delegates authority to other developers in order for them to perform specialized tasks. Generally this means that a leader delegates someone to start a new group for a new task, and gradually a team gets formed that carries on doing the work and regularly expands or reduces their ranks as they think is best and as the circumstances allow.
A role in Debian with a similar importance to the Project Leader's is that of a Release Manager. Release Managers set goals for the next release, supervise the processes, and make the final decision as to when to release.
A supplemental position, Debian Second in Charge (2IC), was created by Anthony Towns. Steve McIntyre held the position between April 2006 and April 2007. From April 2009 to April 2010 this position was held by Luk Claes. Stefano Zacchiroli abandoned this unofficial position when elected in April 2010.
Note that this list includes the active release managers; it does not include the release assistants (first introduced in 2003) and the retiring managers ("release wizards").
The Debian project has a steady influx of applicants wishing to become developers. These applicants must undergo an elaborate vetting process which establishes their identity, motivation, understanding of the project's goals (embodied in the Social Contract), and technical competence.
Debian Developers join the Project for a number of reasons; some that have been cited in the past include:
Debian Developers may resign their positions at any time by orphaning the packages they were responsible for and sending a notice to the developers and the keyring maintainer (so that their upload authorization can be revoked).
Software packages in development are either uploaded to the project distribution named unstable (also known as sid), or to the experimental repository. Software packages uploaded to unstable are normally versions stable enough to be released by the original upstream developer, but with the added Debian-specific packaging and other modifications introduced by Debian developers. These additions may be new and untested. Software not ready yet for the unstable distribution is typically placed in the experimental repository.
After a version of a software package has remained in unstable for a certain length of time (depending on the urgency of the software's changes), that package is automatically migrated to the testing distribution. The package's migration to testing occurs only if no serious (release-critical) bugs in the package are reported and if other software needed for package functionality qualifies for inclusion in testing.
Since updates to Debian software packages between official releases do not contain new features, some choose to use the testing and unstable distributions for their newer packages. However, these distributions are less tested than stable, and unstable does not receive timely security updates. In particular, incautious upgrades to working unstable packages can sometimes seriously break software functionality. Since September 9, 2005 the testing distribution's security updates have been provided by the testing security team.
After the packages in testing have matured and the goals for the next release are met, the testing distribution becomes the next stable release. The timing of the release is decided by the Release Managers, and in the past the exact date was rarely announced earlier than a couple of weeks beforehand.
Each Debian software package has a maintainer who keeps track of releases by the "upstream" authors of the software and ensures that the package is compliant with Debian Policy, coheres with the rest of the distribution, and meets the standards of quality of Debian. In relations with users and other developers, the maintainer uses the bug tracking system to follow up on bug reports and fix bugs. Typically, there is only one maintainer for a single package, but, increasingly, small teams of developers "co-maintain" larger and more complex packages and groups of packages.
Periodically, a package maintainer makes a release of a package by uploading it to the "incoming" directory of the Debian package archive (or an "upload queue" which periodically batch-transmits packages to the incoming directory). Package uploads are automatically processed to ensure that they are well-formed (all the requisite files are in place) and that the package is digitally signed by a Debian developer using OpenPGP-compatible software. All Debian developers have individual cryptographic key pairs. Packages are signed to be able to reject uploads from hostile outsiders to the project, and to permit accountability in the event that a package contains a serious bug, a violation of policy, or malicious code.
If the package in incoming is found to be validly signed and well-formed, it is installed into the archive into an area called the "pool" and distributed every day to hundreds of mirrors worldwide. Initially, all package uploads accepted into the archive are only available in the "unstable" suite of packages, which contains the most up-to-date version of each package.
However, new code is also untried code, and those packages are only distributed with clear disclaimers. For packages to become candidates for the next "stable" release of the Debian distribution, they first need to be included in the "testing" suite. For a package to be included in testing:
Thus, a release-critical bug in a package on which many packages depend, such as a shared library, may prevent many packages from entering the testing area, because that library is considered deficient.
Periodically, the Release Manager publishes guidelines to the developers in order to ready the release, and in accordance with them eventually decides to make a release. This occurs when all important software is reasonably up-to-date in the release-candidate suite for all architectures for which a release is planned, and when any other goals set by the Release Manager have been met. At that time, all packages in the release-candidate suite ("testing") become part of the released suite ("stable").
It is possible for a package, particularly an old, stable, and seldom-updated one, to belong to more than one suite at the same time. The suites are simply collections of pointers into the package "pool" mentioned above.
The Debian Project, being free software, handles security policy through public disclosure rather than through security through obscurity. Many advisories are coordinated with other free software vendors (Debian is a member of vendor-sec) and are published the same day a vulnerability is made public. Debian has a security audit team that reviews the archive looking for new or unfixed security bugs. Debian also participates in security standardization efforts: the Debian security advisories are compatible with the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) dictionary, and Debian is represented in the Board of the Open Vulnerability and Assessment Language (OVAL) project.
The Debian Project offers extensive documentation and tools to harden a Debian installation both manually and automatically. SELinux (Security-Enhanced Linux) packages are installed by default though not enabled. Debian provides an optional hardening wrapper but does not compile their packages by default using gcc features such as PIE and buffer overflow protection to harden their software, unlike Ubuntu, Fedora and Hardened Gentoo among others. These extra features greatly increase security at a performance cost of 1% in 32-bit and 0.01% in 64-bit.
It is a release goal for Debian 7.0 (wheezy) "to update as many packages as possible to use security hardening build flags via dpkg-buildflags. These flags enable various protections against security issues such as stack smashing, predictable locations of values in memory, etc."
As of May 2013[update], the latest stable release is version 7, code name wheezy. When a new version is released, the prior stable version becomes oldstable. As of May 2013[update], this is version 6.0, code name squeeze.
In addition, a stable release gets minor updates (called point releases). The numbering scheme for the point releases up to Debian 4.0 was to include the letter r (for release) after the main version number (e.g. 4.0) and then the number of the point release; for example, the latest point release of version 4.0 (etch) as of 8 December 2010 is 4.0r9. From Debian 5.0 (lenny), the numbering scheme of point releases has been changed and conforms to the GNU version numbering standard; so, for example, the first point release of Debian 5.0 was 5.0.1 (instead of 5.0r1). The numbering scheme was once again changed for the first Debian 7 update, with the latter being assigned version 7.1.
The Debian security team releases security updates for the latest stable major release, and for the prior stable release for one year. Version 4.0 etch was released on 8 April 2007, and the security team supported version 3.1 Sarge until 21 March 2008. For most uses it is strongly recommended to run a system which receives security updates. The testing distribution also receives security updates, but not in as timely a manner as stable.
For Debian 6.0 (squeeze) a new policy of time-based development freezes on a two-year cycle was announced. Time-based freezes are intended to allow the Debian Project to blend the predictability of time based releases with its policy of feature based releases. The new freeze policy aims to provide better predictability of releases for users of the Debian distribution, and to allow Debian developers to do better long-term planning. Debian developers expect that a two-year release cycle will give more time for disruptive changes, reducing inconveniences caused for users. Having predictable freezes was expected to reduce overall freeze time. The squeeze cycle was intended to be especially short to "get into the new cycle". However this short freeze cycle for squeeze was abandoned.
The code names of Debian releases are names of characters from the film Toy Story. The unstable, development distribution is permanently nicknamed sid, after the emotionally unstable next-door neighbor boy who regularly destroyed toys. The current release wheezy is named after the rubber toy penguin in Toy Story 2. The release after wheezy will be named jessie, after the cowgirl in Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3.
Debian has made twelve major stable releases:
|Legend:||Old version||Older version, still supported||Current version||Latest preview version||Future release|
TBA stands for to be announced.
|Version||Code name||Release date||Ports||Packages||Supported until||Notes|
|Old version, no longer supported: 1.1||buzz||1996-06-17||1||474||Old version, no longer supported: 1996-09||
|Old version, no longer supported: 1.2||rex||1996-12-12||1||848||Old version, no longer supported: 1996||-|
|Old version, no longer supported: 1.3||bo||1997-06-05||1||974||Old version, no longer supported: 1997||-|
|Old version, no longer supported: 2.0||hamm||1998-07-24||2||≈ 1,500||Old version, no longer supported: 1998||glibc transition, new architecture:
|Old version, no longer supported: 2.1||slink||1999-03-09||4||≈ 2,250||Old version, no longer supported: 2000-12||
|Old version, no longer supported: 2.2||potato||2000-08-15||6||≈ 3,900||Old version, no longer supported: 2003-04||New architectures:
|Old version, no longer supported: 3.0||woody||2002-07-19||11||≈ 8,500||Old version, no longer supported: 2006-08||New architectures:
|Old version, no longer supported: 3.1||sarge||2005-06-06||11||≈ 15,400||Old version, no longer supported: 2008-04||Modular installer, semi-official
|Old version, no longer supported: 4.0||etch||2007-04-08||11||≈ 18,000||Old version, no longer supported: 2010-02-15||New architecture:
|Old version, no longer supported: 5.0||lenny||2009-02-15||12||≈ 23,000||Old version, no longer supported: 2012-02-06||New architecture/binary ABI:
|Older version, yet still supported: 6.0||squeeze||2011-02-06||9+2[A]||≈ 29,000||Older version, yet still supported: TBA (expected 2014-05)||New architectures/kernels:
|Current stable version: 7||wheezy||2013-05-04||11+2[B]||≈ 37,000||Current stable version: TBA||New architectures:
|Future release: 8||jessie||TBA||TBA||TBA||Future release: TBA||TBA|
Due to an incident involving a CD vendor who made an unofficial and broken release labeled 1.0, an official 1.0 release was never made.
Debian was first announced on 16 August 1993 by Ian Murdock, who initially called the system "the Debian Linux Release". The word "Debian" was formed as a combination of the first name of his then-girlfriend Debra Lynn and his own first name. Prior to Debian's release, the Softlanding Linux System (SLS) had been the first Linux distribution compiled from various software packages, and was a popular basis for other distributions in 1993-1994. The perceived poor maintenance and prevalence of bugs in SLS motivated Murdock to launch a new distribution.
In 1993 Murdock also released the Debian Manifesto, outlining his view for the new operating system. In it he called for the creation of a distribution to be maintained in an open manner, in the spirit of Linux and GNU.
The Debian Project grew slowly at first and released the first 0.9x versions in 1994 and 1995. During this time it was sponsored by the Free Software Foundation's GNU Project. The first ports to other, non-i386 architectures began in 1995, and the first 1.x version of Debian was released in 1996.
In 1996, Bruce Perens replaced Ian Murdock as the project leader. Perens decided to create a social contract for Debian to guarantee the future freedom of the system's contents. He created a first draft, and edited suggestions from a month-long discussion on the Debian mailing lists into the Debian Social Contract and the Debian Free Software Guidelines, defining fundamental commitments for the development of the distribution. He also initiated the creation of the legal umbrella organization, Software in the Public Interest. Perens developed the project from 40 to 200 developers. He broke apart the "base system", the core packages of Debian, which had been maintained by Murdock alone, and distributed them to many maintainers. He led the conversion of the project from a.out to ELF. He created the BusyBox program to make it possible to run a Debian installer on a single floppy, and wrote a new installer. Perens was also responsible for many policy and design elements of Debian that persist to this day. Perens left the project in 1998.
The Project elected new leaders and made two more 2.x releases, each including more ports and packages. The Advanced Packaging Tool was deployed during this time and the first port to a non-Linux kernel, Debian GNU/Hurd, was started. The first Linux distributions based on Debian, namely Libranet, Corel Linux and Stormix's Storm Linux, were started in 1999. The 2.2 release in 2000 was dedicated to Joel Klecker, a developer who died of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
In late 2000, the project made major changes to archive and release management, reorganizing software archive processes with new "package pools" and creating a testing distribution as an ongoing, relatively stable staging area for the next release. In the same year, developers began holding an annual conference called DebConf with talks and workshops for developers and technical users.
In July 2002, the Project released version 3.0, codenamed woody, a stable release which would see relatively few updates until the following release.
The 3.1 sarge release was made in June 2005. There were many major changes in this release, mostly due to the long time it took to freeze and release the distribution. Not only did this release update over 73% of the software shipped in the prior version, but it also included much more software than prior releases, almost doubling in size with over 9,000 new packages. A new installer replaced the aging boot-floppies installer with a modular design. This allowed advanced installations (with RAID, XFS and LVM support) including hardware detection, making installations easier for novice users. The installation system also boasted full internationalization support as the software was translated into almost forty languages. An installation manual and comprehensive release notes were released in ten and fifteen different languages respectively. This release included the efforts of the Debian-Edu/Skolelinux, Debian-Med and Debian-Accessibility sub-projects which raised the number of packages that were educational, had a medical affiliation, and ones made for people with disabilities.
In 2006, as a result of a much-publicized dispute, Mozilla software was rebranded in Debian, with Firefox becoming Iceweasel, Thunderbird becoming Icedove, along with other Mozilla programs. The Mozilla Corporation stated that Debian may not use the Firefox trademark if it distributes Firefox with modifications which have not been approved by the Mozilla Corporation. Two prominent reasons that Debian modifies the Firefox software are to change the artwork and to provide security patches. Debian Free Software Guidelines consider Mozilla's artwork non-free. Debian provides long term support for older versions of Firefox in the stable release, where Mozilla preferred that old versions not be supported but has since included Legacy versions of programs. These software programs developed largely by the Mozilla Corporation were rebranded despite having only minor differences in the source code.
Debian 4.0 (etch) was released April 8, 2007 for the same number of architectures as in sarge. It included the AMD64 port but dropped support for m68k. The m68k port was, however, still available in the unstable distribution. There were approximately 18,200 binary packages maintained by more than 1,030 Debian developers.
Debian 5.0 (lenny) was released February 14, 2009 after 22 months of development. It includes more than 25,000 software packages. Support was added for Marvell's Orion platform and for netbooks such as the Asus Eee PC, but support was dropped for 32-bit SPARC machines. The release was dedicated to Thiemo Seufer, an active developer and member of the community who died in a car accident on December 26, 2008.
Debian 7.0 (wheezy) was released May 4, 2013 after 26 months of development. This release attempted to allow more architectures to be supported.
Debian was ranked second only to Ubuntu (which is derived from Debian) for Most Used Linux Distribution for both personal and organizational use in a 2007 survey by SurveyMonkey.com. Debian won the 2007 poll on Server Distribution of the Year by LinuxQuestions.org.
Both the Debian distribution and their website have won various awards from different organizations. Debian was awarded the 2004 Readers' Choice Award for Favorite Linux Distribution by the Linux Journal. A total of fifteen other awards have been awarded throughout Debian's lifetime including Best Linux Distribution.
Debian has also received negative assessments. In May 2008, a Debian Developer revealed his discovery that changes made in 2006 to the random number generator in the version of the OpenSSL package distributed with Debian and other Debian-based distributions such as Ubuntu or Knoppix, made a variety of security keys vulnerable to a random number generator attack. The security weakness was caused by changes made to the OpenSSL code by another Debian Developer in response to memory debugger warnings. The security hole was soon patched by Debian and others, but the complete resolution procedure was cumbersome for users because it involved regenerating all affected keys, and it drew criticism to Debian's practice of making Debian-specific changes to software.
Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation (FSF) have criticized the Debian Project for providing the non-free repository, rather than excluding this type of software entirely, an opinion also echoed by some in Debian including the then-Project Leader Wichert Akkerman. The internal dissent in the Debian Project regarding the non-free section has persisted, but the last time it came to a vote in 2006, a large majority decided to keep it.
During the release cycles of Woody and Sarge, the Debian Project drew considerable criticism from the free software community because of the long time between stable releases.
When in need of updated versions of software, it is possible to use Debian testing instead of stable as it usually contains more modern, though slightly less stable packages. Another alternative is to use Debian backports, which are "recompiled packages from testing (mostly) and unstable (in a few cases only, e.g. security updates), so they will run without new libraries (wherever it is possible) on a stable Debian distribution".
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